WITI OC Recap: The Value of Mix and Mingle Networking

Terry Dear

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On June 21, 2018, WITI Orange County held its summer "Mix and Mingle" networking event outdoors at the Eureka Building in Irvine, CA. With summer fading fast and fall approaching, one might wonder why publish a recap now about an event that occurred in the past? This recap is not to reflect on the good old days, but to remind us about the value of attending mix and mingle (i.e., networking) events especially during the upcoming busy fall and winter festivities.

Most of us in technology are introvert geeks at heart and would rather play Fortnite (for the older generation, Dungeons and Dragons), than make conversations with strangers. Some of us are too tired from work and busy taking care of the family to spend a couple of hours to mix and mingle. There is no immediate tangible gratification of attending mix and mingle events. Why attend?

In today's market, company employment longevity average is 4.6 years. This means that you will be looking for a new opportunity every five years. Unless you are part of the top one percent in your field, qualified credentials alone do not get you the job. Everyone's resume proclaims having top honors or skills or years of experience such that resumes start blending together. How are opportunities discovered?

Let's flip the question. How do companies pick candidates to interview for their open positions? Most companies start with employee referrals and recommendations. Does anyone know anyone (qualified) who would be a great candidate for their open position? Using logic . . . the more people who 'know who you are' and 'know what you do,' the more chances you have of being presented opportunities. Besides 'what you know,' it is also 'who you know'. Be sure to attend mix and mingle events that make sense for your next opportunity. If you are in the bakery business, you probably would not attend a Fortnite mix and mingle event.

Yes, social media can be used to get your name out there to be known. This assumes that people are actually looking at your media post. At a mix and mingle event, you are face to face with other attendees. Social politeness demands that you at least say hello and ask the standard question, 'Why are you here?' Who knows where the conversation may lead. Never discount talking to someone. The next person you talk to may be your new boss.

The value derived is based on the effort put forth. Come prepared with a 30 second speech describing yourself, your passion, your interest, or a request for opportunity. Have stock ice breaker questions like 'Do you know anyone here?', 'How did you hear about this event?', 'what brings you here?', or 'Do you come to these events often?' You may not be looking for an opportunity now, but the more you mix and mingle and become known to others, the more they will remember you when opportunity does knock on your door.

In closing, how did the WITI OC Mix and Mingle event go? Several new contacts were made. One college student (who attended) received an intern position for the summer. KAYGEN, Information Excellence is getting a special shout out as their director of business development (who attended) assisted WITI OC with a snafu. "Kaygen" is inspired from the Japanese word KaiZen "Continuous Improvement." Kaygen is an award-winning global technology solutions provider enabling Fortune 500 corporations to leverage their data as a strategic asset to solve their most pressing business challenges and achieve their goals.

Join WITI OC for their upcoming November event: "What is Cyber Crime and How to protect yourself against it?"

Let's Mix and Mingle.....

Terry Dear is the vice president of software development at BMS. She is also the program chair of WITI.

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